World’s Last Remaining Tigers Live Under Severe Threat of Extinction

GR: Our grandchildren will probably see the last of the wild apes, elephants, giraffes, lions, and tigers. We humans are eliminating Earth’s wild animals. Though some of us might feel remorse, most of us are more concerned with our daily routine: struggling to acquire wealth, satisfying desires, interacting with family and friends, and shopping at Amazon and Walmart (our leaders are like the rest of us except they wouldn’t be caught dead in Walmart). Last week there was a teacup storm over the raw truth of climate change. The true disaster is the careless and relentless destruction of nature in which human-caused climate change joins farming, fishing, hunting, dumping, and urbanization as an instrument of nature’s destruction. Can anything stop the human juggernaut’s inexorable destruction of nature? It appears that, like an avalanche, it will continue until all human potential is gone. Sad.

“The world’s last remaining tigers are living under severe threat of extinction, having lost 93 percent of their historical range and suffered a population crash of 95 percent during the past century.

“The major threat to their continued existence on Earth is poaching to meet the high demand in Asia for their parts and derivatives.

“This demand is exacerbated by the legal trade in lion bone, so it was with dismay that the Environmental Investigation Agency witnessed the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) 17th Conference of the Parties last year decide to allow South Africa to export up to 800 lion skeletons a year—as long as the lions were sourced from captive breeding facilities in South Africa.

“Ahead of next week’s 29th meeting of the CITES Animals Committee, in Geneva, Switzerland, the Environmental Investigation Agency has produced the detailed briefing The Lion’s Share: South Africa’s trade exacerbates demand for tiger parts and derivatives outlining the threat.” –Environmental Investigation Agency (Continue: World’s Last Remaining Tigers Live Under Severe Threat of Extinction.)

Earth’s Sixth Mass Extinction Event Under Way

GR: Let’s say we get control of our greenhouse gas emissions and hold global warming to two-degrees. There will be deep long-lasting droughts, coastal flooding, mass migrations, and many deaths due to heatwaves, floods, and fires. Nevertheless, humanity will survive. Can we count this as our greatest triumph? Not really. Most of Earth’s beautiful forests, natural grasslands, and countless wild animals and plants will not survive. Here are two articles that lay out some of the details of the greatest human failure of all; the failure to care for and protect our planet’s precious biological heritage.

Damian Carrington– A “biological annihilation” of wildlife in recent decades means a sixth mass extinction in Earth’s history is under way and is more severe than previously feared, according to research. [The article includes a “video report” and example maps of the dwindling range of the lion.]

Patrick Bentley male lion

“Scientists analysed both common and rare species and found billions of regional or local populations have been lost. They blame human overpopulation and overconsumption for the crisis and warn that it threatens the survival of human civilisation, with just a short window of time in which to act.

“The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, eschews the normally sober tone of scientific papers and calls the massive loss of wildlife a “biological annihilation” that represents a “frightening assault on the foundations of human civilisation”.

“Prof Gerardo Ceballos, at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, who led the work, said: “The situation has become so bad it would not be ethical not to use strong language.”

“Previous studies have shown species are becoming extinct at a significantly faster rate than for millions of years before, but even so extinctions remain relatively rare giving the impression of a gradual loss of biodiversity. The new work instead takes a broader view, assessing many common species which are losing populations all over the world as their ranges shrink, but remain present elsewhere.The scientists found that a third of the thousands of species losing populations are not currently considered endangered and that up to 50% of all individual animals have been lost in recent decades. Detailed data is available for land mammals, and almost half of these have lost 80% of their range in the last century.

“The scientists found billions of populations of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians have been lost all over the planet, leading them to say a sixth mass extinction has already progressed further than was thought.Billions of animals have been lost as their habitats have become smaller with each passing year.The scientists conclude: “The resulting biological annihilation obviously will have serious ecological, economic and social consequences. Humanity will eventually pay a very high price for the decimation of the only assemblage of life that we know of in the universe.” (Source: Earth’s sixth mass extinction event under way, scientists warn | Environment | The Guardian)

 

You Don’t Need a Scientist to Know What’s Causing the Sixth Mass Extinction

Paul R. Ehrlich– It’s simple. It’s us. The more people there are, the more habitats we destroy. Human civilisation can only survive if the population begins to shrink

A peacock butterfly rests on a thistle. ‘Cropland is generally not rich in food plants suitable for the caterpillars of the 15,000 butterfly species with which we share the planet.’ Photograph: Silas Stein/AFP/Getty Images

“One should not need to be a scientist to know that human population growth and the accompanying increase in human consumption are the root cause of the sixth mass extinction we’re currently seeing. All you need to know is that every living being has evolved to have a set of habitat requirements.

“An organism can’t live where the temperature is too hot or too cold. If it lives in water, it requires not only an appropriate temperature range, but also appropriate salinity, acidity and other chemical characteristics. If it is a butterfly, it must have access to plants suitable for its caterpillars to eat. A lion requires plant-eaters to catch and devour. A tree needs a certain amount of sunlight and access to soil nutrients and water. A falciparum malaria parasite can’t survive and reproduce without Anopheles mosquitos in its habitat and a human bloodstream to infest.

“The human population has grown so large that roughly 40% of the Earth’s land surface is now farmed to feed people – and none too well at that. Largely due to persistent problems with distribution, almost 800 million people go to bed hungry, and between one and two billion suffer from malnutrition. As a consequence of its booming population, Homo sapiens has taken much of the most fertile land to grow plants for its own consumption. But guess what? That cropland is generally not rich in food plants suitable for the caterpillars of the 15,000 butterfly species with which we share the planet. Few butterflies require the wheat, corn or rice on which humans largely depend. From the viewpoint of most of the Earth’s wildlife, farming can be viewed as “habitat destruction”. And, unsurprisingly, few species of wildlife have evolved to live on highways, or in strip malls, office buildings, kitchens or sewers – unless you count Norway rats, house mice, European starlings and German roaches. Virtually everything humanity constructs provides an example of habitat destruction.” (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jul/11/sixth-mass-extinction-habitats-destroy-population.)

Human race is doomed if we do not colonise the Moon and Mars, says Stephen Hawking 

Saving Life on Earth

GR: Hawking is right about the threat from an extinction-level meteorite strike, and it is certainly true that we are ruining this planet through overpopulation and global warming, but if we follow his advice, several thousand people will survive while billions will be left on Earth to die abruptly or slowly as events unfold. Hawking says we need to set up colonies with working ecosystems on the moon and mars within 30 and 50 years. Since our Earth-bound efforts to manipulate existing ecosystems have usually failed despite having a mature atmosphere that admits the correct light wavelengths for plants and animals to survive, the probability for failure to establish a working ecosystem on the moon or mars is very high. Do it in 30 or 50 years? Not even if all the Trumps on Earth were packed off to Alpha Centauri tomorrow.

We should follow Hawking’s advice and begin trying to establish extraterrestrial colonies, however the chance for our species’ survival would be much higher if we concentrated our efforts in preserving and protecting Earth’s existing ecosystems. And if that protection has to include an asteroid busting ray gun, well, we have only 30 to 50 years to get one built. Despite serious warnings by Hawking and others, we are making only feeble efforts to preserve and protect what we already have here on Earth.

Our situation reminds me of the behavior of Douglas Adams’ Golgafrinchan Arc B colonists when they reached Earth. Pure lunacy, but as embarrassingly accurate as the social events in Lord of the Flies. Must our species always be defined by its lowest common denominator? We need to raise our heads, look around, and comprehend the need to finance an emergency mission to save Earth and we need to do it now. All our humanitarian, entrepreneurial, and military goals are simply irrelevant if we do not.

Avoiding Human Extinction

Sarah Knapton, Science Editor for The Telegraph:  “The human race must start leaving Earth within 30 years to avoid being wiped out by over-population and climate change, Professor Stephen Hawking has warned.”

“Making an impassioned speech at the Starmus science festival in Trondheim, Norway, the astrophysicist said it was crucial to establish colonies on Mars and the Moon, and take a Noah’s Ark of plants, animals, fungi and insects, to start creating a new world.

“Prof Hawking said it was only a matter of time before the Earth as we know it is destroyed by an asteroid strike, soaring temperatures or over-population.

“He said that becoming a ‘cosmic sloth’ was not an option because ‘the threats are too big and too numerous.’

“I am convinced that humans need to leave earth. The Earth is becoming too small for us, our physical resources are being drained at an alarming rate. We have given our planet the disastrous gift of climate change, rising temperatures, the reducing of polar ice caps , deforestation and decimation of animal species.When we have reached similar crisis in or history there has usually been somewhere else to colonise. Columbus did it in 1492 when he discovered the new world. But now there is no new world. No Eutopia around the corner. We are running out of space and the only places to go to are other worlds.”

Prof Hawking said it was important to begin colonising Mars and the Moon

 

“Prof Hawking told the audience that the Earth would eventually be hit by a devastating asteroid strike.

“This is not science fiction it is guaranteed by the laws of physics and probability, he said. To stay risks being annihilated. Spreading out into space will completely change the future of humanity. It  may also determine whether we have any future at all. Wherever we go we will need to build a civilisation, we will need to take the practical means of establishing a whole new ecosystem the will survive in an environment that know very little about and we will need to consider transporting several thousands of people, animals, plants, fungi, bacteria and insects.”

Prof Hawking said the Moon and Mars were the best sites to begin the first colonies, stating that a lunar base could be established within 30 years and a Martian outpost within 50. But he also suggested leaving the Solar System and venturing to our nearest star system, Alpha Centauri, where scientists believe there exists a habitable planet known as Proxima B.” –Sarah Knapton (Human race is doomed if we do not colonise the Moon and Mars, says Stephen Hawking)

Dams could permanently damage Amazon

GR: Deforestation on the land and dams on the river are eating away at the Amazon rainforest ecosystem.

EDGARGO LATRUBESSE Image caption The Amazon basin is the largest and most complex river system in the world (Edgargo Latrubesse)

Dams Threaten Amazon Ecosystem

“The Amazon basin could suffer significant and irreversible damage if an extensive dam building programme goes ahead, scientists say. Currently, 428 hydroelectric dams are planned, with 140 already built or under construction. Researchers warn that this could affect the dynamics of the complex river system and put thousands of unique species at risk. The study is published in the journal Nature.

“The world is going to lose the most diverse wetland on the planet,” said lead author Prof Edgargo Latrubesse, from the University of Texas at Austin, US.

Cascading problems for the Amazon

The Amazon basin covers more than 6.1 million sq km, and is the largest and most complex river system on the planet. It has become a key area for hydroelectric dam construction. But this study suggests that the push for renewable energy along the Amazon’s waterways could lead to profound problems. The international team of researchers who carried out the research is particularly concerned about any disruption to the natural movement of sediment in the rivers. This sediment provides a vital source of nutrients for wildlife in the Amazon’s wetlands. It also affects the way the waterways meander and flow. –Rebecca Morelle (Dams could ‘permanently damage Amazon’ – BBC News).